Ocracoke Island Fig Cake

This cake was created in the 1960s by a home baker on Ocracoke Island, which is located in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Figs are plentiful there, and the jam makes this simple spice cake irresistibly moist and delicious.

Ocracoke Island Fig Cake
Makes 1 (12-Cup) Bundt cake
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup fig jam or spread*
  • ¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon warm water (105° to 110°)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup whole buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • Buttermilk Glaze (recipe follows)
  • Garnish: fresh halved figs, chopped toasted walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat eggs at medium speed until smooth and light in color, about 3 minutes. Add granulated sugar, oil, fig spread, and brown sugar; beat on medium speed until thickened and well combined, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping sides of bowl as needed.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, zest, and pepper. In a small bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon warm water and baking soda; add buttermilk and vanilla, stirring until well combined.
  4. Add flour mixture to egg mixture alternately with buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until combined. (Batter will be thin.) Fold in walnuts. Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan with baking spray with flour. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  5. Bake until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Using a butter knife or a small offset spatula, gently loosen sides and center of cake from pan. Invert cake onto a wire rack, then carefully turn flat-side up onto a serving plate. Let cool completely.
  6. Spread Buttermilk Glaze over cooled cake. Garnish with figs and walnuts, if desired.
*We used Dalmatia Fig Spread.

Buttermilk Glaze
Makes 1⅓ Cups
  • 3½ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 5 tablespoons whole buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients until smooth. Use immediately.



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